- Full name Philip Joseph Hughes
- Born 06/24/1986 in Mission Viejo, CA
- Profile Ht.: 6'5" / Wt.: 240 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Foothill
- Debut 04/26/2007
Drafted in the 1st round (23rd overall) by the New York Yankees in 2004 (signed for $1,400,000).
View Draft ReportOrange County has three prep righthanders with first-round potential, and the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Hughes has emerged as the best prospect. He has the complete package, including a power arm that can generate 93-95 mph heat. He also has excellent body control for a pitcher his size, a fluid delivery and an advanced feel for his craft. Some scouts say he's ahead of Mark Prior at the same stage of development. In a seven-inning perfect game this spring against Laguna Hills High, Hughes struck out 13 and threw just 74 pitches; his first and last pitches were clocked at 95. On the year, he went 8-1, 0.78 with three walks and 75 strikeouts in 54 innings. Hughes isn't a big strikeout pitcher because his fastball lacks movement, and he was more concerned with tightening his mechanics and developing his offspeed stuff, which ranges from a tight slider to a slurvy breaking ball. But he throws all his pitches for strikes and is projectable. Hughes has committed to Santa Clara, just like Jared Hughes (no relation), who was one of the top pitching prospects in Orange County a year ago but fell to the 16th round amid concerns about signability. Philip is considered less likely to attend college, paving the way for his selection in the middle of the first round.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Hughes entered 2006 as the top prospect in the Yankees system, and he handled that pressure better than many of his predecessors. The Yankees also have handled Hughes well. Due to injuries, he pitched just 91 innings in his first two years in pro ball. None of his physical problems had been major: A stubbed toe limited him to five innings in his 2004 pro debut, and he had two stints on the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis and a tired arm in 2005. So his workload wouldn't increase dramatically, New York limited him to 80 pitches or five innings for most of the second half of 2006. He turned in one of the minors' best seasons and finished with a kick that had Yankees fans calling for his promotion for the stretch run. Instead of tiring as he pushed past 100 innings for the first time, Hughes dominated, giving up just 10 hits and two runs in his last 30 innings, then striking out 13 in six innings against eventual champion Portland in the first game of the Double-A Eastern League playoffs. Hughes has it all, with the combination of stuff, feel and command to profile as a No. 1 starter. In the words of one club official, "His stuff and his command keep getting better," and they were pretty good to begin with. Hughes sits at 91-95 mph with his four-seam fastball and touches 96. He can throw quality strikes with either his four-seamer or his upper-80s two-seamer. As he gains experience, his excellent control (his career K-BB ratio is 269-54) should evolve into above-average command. Hughes' greatest accomplishment as a pro has been to forsake his slider in favor of a knockout curveball, which is more of a strikeout pitch and produces less stress on his arm. It's a true power breaking ball that sits in the low 80s with 1-to-7 break. Club officials call it the best in the system because Hughes can throw it for quality strikes or bury it out of the zone, and because he uses the same arm slot and release point he uses for his fastball. While his slider is still a good pitch, he rarely throws it in games anymore. The biggest concerns for Hughes entering the season were durability and his changeup. He answered the former question emphatically, but his changeup remains an unfinished project. While he made progress, he doesn't control his change as well as he does his fastball and curve. Because the curve is still relatively new to him, it sometimes morphs into more of a slurve, but that's happening less often. The Yankees' biggest need is a homegrown ace to join Chien-Ming Wang at the front of their rotation, and Hughes is nearly ready to give them just that. Hughes hasn't pitched in Triple-A yet and probably will start 2007 there with the club's new Scranton/Wilkes-Barre affiliate, if only to get consistent work early in the season. No one would be shocked to see Hughes in the majors in June, just three years after being drafted.
Hughes is a California guy but grew up a Red Sox fan, as his father hails from New England and he had a grandmother who lived in Rhode Island. As a boy, Hughes took trips to visit her in the summer and went to games at Fenway Park regularly. Hughes was one of the nation's top high school arms when the 2004 draft rolled around, but slipped to the Yankees with the 23rd overall pick as teams focused on college players. Signed for $1.4 million, Hughes worked just five innings in his pro debut before he stubbed his toe in his hotel room. Being ultra-cautious and fearing a fracture, New York shut him down. Hughes' first full season also ended early because of a pair of stints on the disabled list, one with shoulder tendinitis and another with a tired arm. One Yankees official has called Hughes "Mark Prior light" since he joined the organization, and the similarities are striking. He has a sturdy, strong body and relatively effortless delivery, and the ball comes out of his hand easy. His fastball settled into the 92-94 mph range last season and he has more velocity when he needs it. As with Prior, the striking feature of Hughes' fastball is his control and command of it. He throws it for strikes consistently and is honing his ability to put it in just the right spot. He has a hard, late-biting slider that the Yankees wouldn't let him throw last year, but he likes it better than his curveball and has the go-ahead to use it again in 2006. His curve progressed significantly and is now an above-average pitch. New York officials believe he has the poise and intangibles to go with his front-of-the-rotation stuff. Like Prior, Hughes has not been durable the last two years. He has pitched for three teams as a pro and has ended each stint on the disabled list. Besides the stubbed toe, he also had a mild case of elbow tendinitis in 2004. Hughes hasn't needed surgery, and the Yankees insist the biggest hurdle he must overcome with regard to his health is getting to know his body better. All pitchers get sore, but Hughes has to learn what soreness is to be expected over the course of a season and what's unusual. At times he throws his curve in the low 70s just to get it over, and he needs to throw it in the 78-80 mph range for it to be a plus pitch. He did that as the year progressed but will have to maintain that feel when he reintroduces his slider. His changeup is his fourth pitch, but he has the feel and arm speed for it to be at least average. The wraps come off Hughes in 2006. The Yankees will start him at high Class A Tampa, and he shouldn't be there long. As he reintroduces his slider, he should become a starter with well-above-average control and above-average command who throws three plus pitches for strikes. In a different organization, a healthy Hughes could reach the major leagues in 2006. Instead, he should be in the mix for a rotation spot in New York in 2007--as long as he stays off the disabled list.
The Yankees had Hughes ranked higher on their 2004 draft board than 23rd overall, but that's where they got him. After getting drafted, Hughes joked that he had been raised a Red Sox fan but was pleased to be with the Yankees. His stuff, size and control have the organization comparing Hughes with Roger Clemens. He has similar velocity, with a fastball that touches 95 mph and sits at 90-94, and he generates it with an easy, fluid motion. His fastball also has late life up in the strike zone. Hughes changes a hitter's sight-line with a slider that at times has good bite and depth. He's also shown good arm action on his changeup. Hughes was shut down more than a month after his pro debut with a sore elbow that turned out to be nothing more than tendinitis. He returned with two excellent outings in August before breaking his toe after kicking a door. He also threw well in the Yankees' fall minicamp, dampening concerns about his health. The Yankees consider Hughes a high school power arm with the polish of a college pitcher. So if he's healthy, he'll move quickly. He'll start 2005 at their new low Class A Charleston affiliate.
Minor League Top Prospects
The Yankees promoted Hughes to Double-A six weeks before his 20th birthday, following just five starts in high Class A. After totaling just 91 innings in his first two pro seasons, he answered questions about his durability by logging 146 innings between his two stops. He also finished strong, going a 4-0, 0.90 with a 61-8 K-BB ratio in 40 innings over his final eight starts. He maintained quality stuff all year. Hughes throws a two-seam fastball at 89-90 mph and a four-seamer at 91-95. He throws two versions of his three-quarters breaking ball, one that's harder and one that breaks more. He also throws a straight changeup at 82-83 mph with terrific late fade. Hughes pitches off his fastball and has an aggressive approach. He repeats his delivery well and his arm action is loose, clean and quick. The biggest thing he needs to improve is his command, as he tends to leave pitches over the plate and up in the strike zone.
Hughes handled the pressure of being a Yankees first-round pick with aplomb. With a big, strong frame producing above-average velocity and a good downhill plane to the plate, Hughes mowed through Sally League hitters with strike-throwing uncommon in a high school draftee in his first full year. While his control is his strong suit, Hughes has good stuff. His fastball sits at 90-94 mph, and while he's not precise with it, he has enough velocity and life on it to survive if he misses his exact spot. His fastball comes out of his hand easy, as does his true downer curveball, an above-average breaking ball. His changeup has potential, though he rarely threw it in the SAL, as does his slider. Hughes' biggest potential problem is injuries. He missed time with shoulder tendinitis in June, and he made just five starts after a promotion to high Class A because of a tired arm. He also had elbow tendinitis in his pro debut last year.
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Control in the New York Yankees in 2007
- Rated Best Curveball in the New York Yankees in 2007
- Rated Best Pitching Prospect in the Eastern League in 2006
- Rated Best Breaking Pitch in the Eastern League in 2006
- Rated Most Exciting Player in the Eastern League in 2006
- Rated Best Fastball in the New York Yankees in 2006